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View Full Version : budget advice please! :)


Philadisney
09-06-2005, 03:33 PM
Hi everyone ~ It's been several months since I posted on these boards but my boyfriend recently mentioned that it might be nice if we went to WDW next year (we've never gone together) so I am super-excited to start planning! i am hoping we'll be able to go in late May (he is in grad school so it's hard to work around his schedule). we want to rent a car and stay at a moderate resort. i was hoping to have us end up spending around $1000 each for all expenses, but i'm nervous that won't be possible looking at my very vague cost estimates. i have been to WDW dozens of times, however, i had always either been traveling with family or a cast member so this is my first time paying "full price" for everything. i would appreciate it if seasoned travelers could give me an idea of how off my budget sounds, or any ways to cut back on expenses. thanks!!!! :goodvibes

5 nights at a moderate resort & two 4-day magic your way tickets, via the disney website: $1369.76
car rental & expenses: $250
airplane travel: around $500 for two between Philadelphia & Orlando (really unsure how much this could be! if we get a southwest sale that would be amazing)
food for two people: $400

throw in a couple souveniers and i'm guessing around $2600, or $1300 total - a bit more than I had been hoping for....how do y'all do it?

Thanks for any insight! :sunny:

HayGan
09-06-2005, 03:46 PM
I think you can definately do it!

First, I would price your vacation thru AAA. A membership could very well save you more than what it would cost to get one. Many AAA agencies will price a vacation for you without requesting your AAA number. Definately price a package which would include room,tix and the dining plan.

You can get a 4 day MYW pass thru links on mousesavers.com newsletter for cheaper than going thru Disney so check them out! Sign up for their newsletter to get the specials!

Consider getting the dining plan! It would cost you ~$80 a night and you would get 1 TS credit, 1 CS credit and 1 snack per person per night of your stay. So 4 days would only cost you around ~$320!!

Why do you need to rent a car? Disney now has Magical Express which will take you to and from the airport for free!!! If not you can definately get a car for less than $250 for 5 days (if one of you is over 25.)

I'm sure you can do better than $250 a person for airfare from PHL to MCO. Southwest regularly runs specials for much cheaper. Also, USAirways has been pricing many of their routes that Southwest also operates very competitively!!! We are flying from PIT to MCO on USAirways for $121 a person! You can definately do better on airfare.

You can definately do it within your budget! Have fun planning!!! :flower:

nboicepardee
09-06-2005, 03:59 PM
We have always flown out of either philly or newark to orlando and i don't think we ever paid more than $140 (last time we paid $100!). i agree about the rental car. before my husband and i had children, we never rented a car. we never felt like we needed one. now with the magical express, it is really hard to justify the expense! we never bought the dining plan, and were always able to eat very inexpensively. we usually treat ourselves to one nice dinner and sometimes eat our "dinner" at lunch time, when it is cheaper. bring drinks and snacks to the parks and you cut back a lot of your food expenses. we also brought some breakfast items to eat in the room sometimes before we leave for the morning. if you plan on being in the park all of the days you are there, i would recommend a value resort. we stayed at pop century last time and it was very nice. we have also stayed at the all star movies and music. if i am hanging around the resort a lot, i like a moderate, but if i am only sleeping there, it doesn't make sense to spend the extra money on a moderate. finally, sign up for a disney visa. you get $50 disney dollars just for signing up and then you earn points for all of your purchases. you can probably earn a bunch before you go in may.
have a great time!

Philadisney
09-06-2005, 04:53 PM
thanks for the two great replies!!!! the AAA thing is a great idea - my boyfriend is an AAA member, but I had no idea you could price a disney vacation through that! i will have to look into that. i'll check out mousesavers and the dining plan as well!
i do already have a disney visa card, but it certainly takes a while to rack up rewards dollars, i think i'll be lucky if i have $100 by our trip. are there any other discounts one can get with the disney visa?
we definitely want to stay at a moderate because we plan to spend at least one day hanging out at the hotel, maybe eating at a resort & checking out fantasia gardens minigolf. that was one of the reaons i wanted a rental car - do the buses run to fantasia gardens? also, i wanted to stop at a grocery store and get some food for the fridge in the hotel room. i guess it really doesn't balance out the car expense though (we are both 23, so it will probably be even more expensive to rent the car than usual). especially when you consider parking....good point.
thanks so much for the input, i knew people here would have great ideas - i'm a bit overwhelmed about not having generous parents & CM discounts to fall back on this time. :goodvibes

mom4graceandlogan
09-06-2005, 05:11 PM
Have your boyfriend check out his AAA website and you can probably get quotes online for room and tickets. Each region has it's own site I think. For instance I am www.aaasouth.com. I have been able to find room and sometimes ticket discounts on that site. I agree you do not need a car. We always drive and we never get in our car from check in to check out. We always bring snacks and usually leave with half of them uneaten. If you buy snacks at the resort, be sure to buy them at the resort store and not the food court. They are more expensive than the grocery store, but not buy much. Example at the Wilderness Lodge an apple and a chocolate milk may cost 3.50 in the food court and 1.50 in the resort store. They have bread, chips, beer, cheese, peanut butter, ham, fresh fruit, drinks, etc. It is definetely not worth renting a car if you main reason for doing it is groceries for two. One caveat: Beer and liquor are expensive at the resort stores and selection is limited. That may not matter to you. But for an example a six pack of budweiser was almost ten dollars. As we did not purchase much I was o.k. with the price but the selection was extremely limited. Budweiser, Miller Lite, Heineken, coors and Corona I think? You could also buy water much cheaper at the store than the food court. Start saving your change. We had almost $300.00 for our trip in change. Also, depending on how far in advance you nbook, you can make payments toward your room and it tends to hurt less and be easier handle. Have a fantastic trip. I honeymooned there and did not return until we had children. We will now be going every year, so we are always saving for Disney!

ntburns22
09-06-2005, 05:40 PM
Check out USA3000 airlines. They just added Orlando to their list. They have rates of $69 one way. Also try the code SAVE for some extra money off. Happy planning.

aka-mad4themouse
09-07-2005, 07:14 AM
We live in the Philly area and we would never spend $250 each for tickets to Orlando. With SWA and USA3000 now competing with USAir for your $$$, the fares have become very reasonable and you should be able to get tickets for $150 apiece or less. Sign up for DING! (http://southwest.com/cgi-bin/systray?action=registrationForm&refId=2005050000000002) and watch for your dates to come up. Right now, SWA is not taking reservations for May, 2006. USA3000 is only booking until the end of April. USAir is booking for May but their cheapest rate right now is $158 RT. Be flexible with your dates and times in order to get the best rates. Holidays and weekends will be less likely to have a number of good rates than your average day in May.

For the tickets, sign up for the MouseSavers.com Newsletter (http://www.mousesavers.com/newsletter.html). It is emailed on or about the 15th of each month. In it, you will almost always find a link to discounted tickets at Ticketmania.com (http://www.ticketmania.com/discounttickets.shtml) and DiscountOrlandoVacation.com (http://www.discountorlandovacation.com/cgi-bin/ccp51/cp-app.cgi?pg=cat&ref=specials). Both are very reputable ticketbrokers who can sell you the tickets for less than Disney charges. Just a note: the 5-day MYW passes are only a few dollars than the 4-day passes. You might want to spend the extra $$$ just to have an extra -day in the parks.

I would skip the rental car and go with the Magical Express service, assuming that it is still offered in the spring. Since you're staying on Disney property with no intention of actually visiting the rest of Orlando, the added expense of a rental car is unnecessary. The cost of parking would not be an issue because it is free for guests staying onsite. You can get to Fantasia Gradens by taking a Disney bus to the Swan & Dolphin complex and walking from there. To get an idea of how to get around WDW using the Disney transportation system, I recommend the OPL Transpotation Guide (http://www.ourlaughingplace.com/asp/twiz.asp?action=rts). You can choose your starting place and destination from drop-down menus and the guide will tell you what transportion you will need to take to get there, as well as give an estimate of how long it will take to arrive.

Use AAA to get a 15% discount off of the rack rate of your moderate hotel room. Get a standard view instead of a pool or water view. It will run about $147/night with tax and the discount. You do not need to go thru AAA to get the discount. Just call Disney directly and book the room using your DBF's AAA membership number. The advantage is that you'll only need to leave a 1-night's deposit on the room vs. $200 for a package. And the balnace on the room does not need to be paid until you check in. A package must be paid in full 45 days prior to departure. AND, there are penalties for cancelling a package inside the 45 day period but a room-only ressie can be cancelled as late as 5-days prior to arrival with no penalty at all.

For food, I think $75 per day should feed the two of you quite easily. For an idea of the cost of food and what's available, try checking AllEarsNet.com - Menus From Around the World (http://allearsnet.com/menu/menus.htm). The dining plan is very nice but it only includes one sitdown meal, one snack and one counterservice meal per night. You would probably still want a 3rd meal each day and you would also need to eat on the "day" that is not covered. At $70 plus tax per day for the dining plan, you might do better on your own. PLUS, the dining plan can only be booked with a package and you would need to book that package thru AAA to get the room discount.

Good luck planning! I think that you could do it for $1000 apiece with a little research and frugal spending.

Philadisney
09-07-2005, 08:13 AM
wow everyone thanks for the great advice! i had never even heard of USA3000 and the AAA discount will be great too. And the Mousesavers & DING are two things I will definitely be signing up for. It's good to hear the bus service is so reliable - I was worried that we'd be spending a lot of time waiting around for buses, or stuck in lines, so it's nice to know that many people who bring cars don't even bother using them. you have all definitely convinced me on that! still not sure about the meal plan - i'll look into that...it is around $70 per person? i was thinking about maybe getting a 4-day plan (we are going to be in the parks four days and have 2 'half days' from traveling probably spent around the resorts). that way we could break up the sit-down meals among the resorts on the half-days if we don't use them at the parks (never been a big fan of the sit-downs at any park except epcot). either way i think i'll already be saving a lot of money with all your suggestions!
Thanks!! :teeth:

HayGan
09-07-2005, 08:52 AM
still not sure about the meal plan - i'll look into that...it is around $70 per person? i was thinking about maybe getting a 4-day plan (we are going to be in the parks four days and have 2 'half days' from traveling probably spent around the resorts). that way we could break up the sit-down meals among the resorts on the half-days if we don't use them at the parks (never been a big fan of the sit-downs at any park except epcot). either way i think i'll already be saving a lot of money with all your suggestions!
Thanks!! :teeth:

The dining plan is around ~$40 per night per person. So for the 2 of you, you would get 4 counter service meals, 4 table service meals and 4 snacks for around $320! Personally, I think it is a great deal if you are considering doing any table service meals.

I would definately call AAA and price it as a package. We were able to save over $600 with AAA for our Dec 4 night Poly package!

aka-mad4themouse
09-07-2005, 09:51 AM
still not sure about the meal plan - i'll look into that...it is around $70 per person? i was thinking about maybe getting a 4-day plan (we are going to be in the parks four days and have 2 'half days' from traveling probably spent around the resorts). :teeth:

The problem with the dining plan is that it needs to be for the full length of your stay. So, if you're staying 5 nights, you will need to pay for 5 nights of dining ($35 x 2 people x 5 nights + tax). That would come out to about $380. You can use those dining options as you wish, doing 2 counterservices in one day, combining 2 sitdown options to eat at a signature restaurant or even sharing meals to stretch your options to cover the additional day.MouseSavers.com (http://www.mousesavers.com/mywplusdining2006.html) has a PDF file that you can download to see which restaurants participate. The webpage also tells you a little more about what the dining program offers.

Just a note about the AAA packages: The discount that you receive is only on the room portion of the package. The tickets and dining are not discounted. But if you want the dining option, this is the only way to get any kind of discount on the package.

goofiecrazy
09-07-2005, 06:40 PM
Hey there I leave in Wilmington DE and when we plan our trip we have our agent see what the price is to fly out Baltimore/Washington airport cause sometimes its like anywhere from like 50 bucks to even 100 bucks or more cheaper.. If ur willing to fly out of a different airport stead of philly that might help out..But we always fly out of philly.. We set a budget for food,hotel,tickets and brining home gifts..PLus we always book the trip like 9 months ahead and make payments that way save even more $$ for the things we want to do and it doesnt hurt as much dishing out the money we have to pay..

It's A Happy Day
09-07-2005, 11:48 PM
Crunched the numbers with dining plan and it came out to 1639 for the 2 of you - this is staying at a moderate resort 5 nights in May with 2 4 day passes - no hopping options - That price would include park passes, hotel, and food and before any specials or discounts!!! I would agree with no rental car unless you plan on driving off property - not cost efficient I think. Definitely check out AAA, mousesavers and other wed sites people are referring you too - you should be able to get better airfare prices. If you are looking to hit a grocery store prior to getting to hotel think of what you would purchase. Many people ship themselves a package to the hotel with basics like cereal, poptarts, etc. so they don't have to bring them and it is already there. Most basic items like milk, bread, etc. can be purchased on site - may be a little more expensive but still less than rental cost. You can definitely shave some corners and get there under budget :banana:

MelodyMack
09-08-2005, 12:11 AM
You've gotten some great advice already.

A more basic trick we use to save is (of course) the old change jar, and my hubby and I have to put 25% of whatever we take from the ATM in there as well (example, if I withdraw $20, then $5 goes in the jar). It adds up FAST if you hit the ATM regularly and when you finally go to count it you'll be so surprised how much you can save!

Good Luck (you have to go...you just HAVE to) -
Mel :wave:

vhoffman
09-08-2005, 04:05 AM
Having some food items in your room certainly helps save on the food budget. We usually have milk, water, breakfast bars, cereal, juice, sandwich fixings, coffee, tea, etc. However, if you won't have a rent car you won't have a way to get such items. Here's what we did last trip and it worked out great--we used a service called www.wegoshop.com. You just email or fax them a list of items you want and they deliver it right to your hotel room, on or off site. They charge $10 for orders under $100. You can specify brands, store, etc. They were prompt and courteous. Its a great service. Having some light meal items in your room really saves on the food budget. We usually ate breakfast in the room, had one nice meal during the day, then had a light meal at night when you're too tired to go out anyways. Hope you have a great trip!

Philadisney
09-08-2005, 10:49 AM
hi everyone - thanks so much for the great replies! i've gotten some fantastic ideas. i feel pretty silly about wanting to spend $250 on a rental car in order to save about $50 on groceries. sounds like i'll save enough by not getting a car to well balanace out spending a little extra money on food at the resort store. i downloaded the DING program from Southwest - we have soooo much time to go before our trip that i'm sure i'll be able to find a cheaper fare than i originally anticipated. the transportation guide and mousesaver site are also great resources. also love the idea of sending a package of food to the hotel - we may even be able to stick some nonperishable food in our luggage, since there are only two of us.

everyone, thanks again for your help so far - i was so nervous before but i really think we'll be able to pull this off now! :sunny:

ElizaB39
09-08-2005, 10:53 AM
You can also bring one suitcase (checked) full of food as we did on our recent stay. We had a family of four so use our largest suitcase. It just being the two of you, you could probably take one mid sized suitcase, fill it with food (power bars, crackers, and etc) and check it through. Now you have space for souvies for on the way home! :cool1:

Philadisney
09-08-2005, 12:10 PM
You can also bring one suitcase (checked) full of food as we did on our recent stay. We had a family of four so use our largest suitcase. It just being the two of you, you could probably take one mid sized suitcase, fill it with food (power bars, crackers, and etc) and check it through. Now you have space for souvies for on the way home! :cool1:

replacing the eaten food with souveniers - i love it! :teeth:

ElizaB39
09-08-2005, 12:59 PM
replacing the eaten food with souveniers - i love it! :teeth:


PReeee-Cisely!!

:cool1: I always picture this guy saying, "woo - hoo""!